US Coins

Fresh gold coins from 1954 King Farouk sale back for auction

The word “fresh” is often used for collections that enter the rare coin market, but Heritage’s offering of the Maurice A. Storck Sr. collection in its Oct. 14 to 17 sessions will present some coins that were last offered at Sotheby’s 1954 King Farouk auction.

Storck, a collector born in 1922, grew up in Portland, Maine, and worked several jobs to support his family during the Great Depression. Heritage writes, “His future career as a coin dealer and numismatist had its roots in grammar school and later school years, when he was known to deal coins and stamps to friends and associates.”

His trip to Cairo, Egypt, in 1954 was a highlight of his numismatic career. As one of the few American coin dealers attending the coin and medal segment of The Palace Collections of Egypt auction, better-known as the King Farouk sale, he was uniquely positioned to purchase rarities from the Sotheby’s auction. That sale today is best-remembered for including a 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle (which was withdrawn at the request of the U.S. government).

Storck opened a coin shop in Portland in 1960, selling his business in 1970 and using the extra time to travel with his wife across the country in their motor home.

Heritage writes, “The Storck purchases in Egypt included interesting group lots and important gold coins, some of which were sold over the years, and others that remained in his private collection.”

Among Storck’s 1954 Farouk purchases to be offered at Heritage in the Oct. 14 session is an 1803 Capped Bust gold $10 eagle graded Mint State 63 by Professional Coin Grading Service, listed as BD-3, die state c/d in the Bass-Dannreuther reference. There are six die pairings for gold $10 eagles this year — all struck from the same obverse die — and four reverse dies feature Small Stars design (like the offered coin), while two feature the Large Stars reverse. The BD-3 die pair struck most of the 15,017 coins in the traditionally accepted mintage for this year.

Heritage writes that it likely appeared in the 1954 Farouk sale where it was acquired by Storck, explaining, “The coin was sold alongside five other early eagles (two 1799s, 1800, 1801, and 1804) described as ‘All extremely fine except one 1799 and 1804 which are very fine; a nice lot in a fitted case.’ ” It boasts strong strike definition at the centers with nice frosty, yellow-gold coloration, though many adjustment marks are seen on the obverse, a product of planchet adjustments at the Philadelphia Mint.

Possibly one of the two 1799 Capped Bust eagles included in that Farouk lot, the Small Obverse Stars, BD-7 example in the Storck auction is today graded MS-63 by PCGS, who notes the Farouk provenance on the slab. This issue is among the most plentiful early gold eagles and Heritage explains, “The reported mintage for the year, 37,449 examples, consists of two major varieties: Small Obverse Stars and Large Obverse Stars. Putting that into context, only about 565 Small Obverse Stars and about 420 Large Obverse Stars coins are thought to survive.”

The cataloger praises the, “light yellow-gold surfaces with traces of field reflectivity,” while observing, “Minor chatter has no effect on the terrific eye appeal.”

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